The gross meat ingredient you’re probably eating

The phrase “meat glue” is likely to elicit a few scrunched noses or raised eyebrows, and the image of “gluing meat” together seems entirely unappealing. But transglutaminase (TG), or meat glue as it’s commonly called, is used in many processed foods today. However, it’s a controversial food additive. Indeed, in 2010, the European Union banned its use, according to Food Safety News. But the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) still allows it, and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) classifies meat glue as “generally recognized as safe.” Actually, the United States still uses a lot of ingredients that are banned in other countries.

Read on to find out what the product is, how it’s used, and if it’s safe for you to consume.

22 PHOTOSThe 10 Best Meats And The 10 Worst OnesSee GalleryThe 10 Best Meats And The 10 Worst Ones

The Best

It’s important to know your health priorities when selecting the proper meat. There are meats you can enjoy that won’t affect your cholesterol or send your sodium levels through the roof. Read on to learn more.

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Pork Tenderloin

While pork can definitely be considered a heavy food, lean cuts of pork can be pretty nutrient rich and even low in calories. A three ounce serving of pork tenderloin has 122 calories and three grams of fat.

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Buffalo (also known as bison) can be a great healthy alternative to red meat like steak or beef. The taste of buffalo is comparable to that of more common red meats and it has half as much fat and fewer calories.

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Roast Beef

If you can’t bear to give up deli meats, which are notorious for nitrates, then roast beef is your best bet. It’s leaner than most deli meats, lower in saturated fat and offers about seven grams of protein per slice.

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Chicken can be an exceptionally lean meat and impressively low in saturated fat when consumed without the skin. Chicken is also filled with nutrients like selenium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin B3. Traditionally white meat has been lauded as the healthier part of the chicken, but while white meat is lower in calories, dark meat contains more zinc and B vitamins than white meat does. Did you know that chicken can actually be a natural anti-depressant as well?

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Ostrich is another great choice for those trying to eat less red meat but who still crave the taste. It’s technically poultry and actually contains half the fat of chicken with 2.8 grams in comparison with chicken’s 7.4. A three-ounce serving has 123 calories and over 24 grams of protein.

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It’s not Thanksgiving without turkey and the good news is that you don’t even have to feel guilty about enjoying it! A four-ounce serving of white meat turkey without the skin has 158 calories and 34 grams of protein. Turkey is also filled with vitamins B3 and B6 in addition to maintaining a low saturated fat content.

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Pheasant is another type of bird that has a lot of nutrients and not too many calories. Enjoying this one with the skin is a bit more fattening, but at least there are a lot of minerals in the bird to make up for it.

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Lamb Shank

This meat comes from the shank half of the lamb and if it’s very well trimmed it can be a reasonably healthy meat to enjoy. A lean three-ounce serving of lamb shank has about 153 calories and under six grams of fat. This size serving of lamb shank also contains about 50 percent of the daily recommended intake of zinc for women and 36 percent for men.

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Yes, veal has more cholesterol than beef. However, if you enjoy leaner cuts of veal like sirloin you’ll be consuming 150 calories or less per three-ounce serving.

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Pork Chop

A boneless pork chop has about 147 calories per serving and 23 grams of protein. The sodium levels are also pretty low on this meat.

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The Worst

Try to consume these meats in moderation since their nutritional profile isn’t as impressive.

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Corned Beef

Corned beef is generally made of the fattier areas of brisket, which should give you a pretty good image of its health profile. It has 16 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 960 mg of sodium, not to mention nitrates. Savor this meat on special occasions.

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Even if it seems light and thin, just a two-ounce serving of prosciutto contains over 10 grams of fat and four grams of that fat is unhealthy saturated fat. In addition to its unsavory fat content, prosciutto is also salted, which makes the sodium content a whopping 973 mg per serving when the daily recommended limit is 1500 mg. Enjoy this one sparingly.

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When eating ham spring for the leaner versions because it is a high fat food. A three-ounce serving of boneless roasted ham has 7.7 grams of fat with 2.7 grams made up of saturated fat.

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If you want to knock out 17 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake with one slice, then try salami. Of the six grams of fat in that slice, two are saturated fat. Savor this one on special occasions.

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It’s a shame that such a popular food isn’t very nutritionally beneficial since it is both high in sodium and saturated fat. Try sprinkling bacon on dishes as a condiment instead, or give turkey bacon a shot.

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This classic lunch meat is definitely one that should be enjoyed sporadically. One slice contains 300 mg of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat.

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Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a very common processed meat. Processed meats can contain nitrates and are frequently high in sodium.

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Roughly two ounces of mortadella contain 14 grams of fat and 560 mg of sodium. That’s 23 percent of your daily recommended intake of sodium.

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Chicken Nuggets

This childhood staple is sadly not very healthy. Sometimes chicken nuggets contain very little chicken and the ingredients that end up in a nugget can be icky. Plus the signature breaded exterior only adds calories. Your best bet is to make your own chicken nuggets from scratch.

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Duck actually has a lot of nutrients in it, but if it’s not prepared properly it becomes a very fattening meal. Try to keep the duck lean by cooking it skinless, trimming the fat and not using a lot of oil. Of the six grams of fat in a serving, there are 2.3 grams of saturated fat, so there’s no need to add more.

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What is meat glue?

Meat glue, or transglutaminase, is an enzyme that is found naturally in humans, animals, and plants. It can form bonds between different types of proteins or different pieces of protein, which is why it’s been given the nickname “nature’s biological glue.”

These enzymes have several purposes, and they don’t all involve meat products. Indeed, TG can be used in baked goods and dairy.

“Meat glue is made from cultivated bacteria from blood plasma from pigs and cows,” says Rebecca Park, RN, New York City, and creator of “Other meat glues are made from cultivated bacteria from vegetables and plant extracts. Most meat glues are mixed with other ingredients, such as gelatin and caseinate.”

Why is transglutaminase used?

“With the help of transglutaminase, small pieces of meat can be bound together to create larger, more uniform pieces,” says Ysabel Montemayor, RD, nutrition director at Fresh n’ Lean. “It has been used to develop or improve the texture of a variety of products such as sausages, chicken nuggets, imitation crab, bread, and cheese. ”

Pork tenderloin is a good example of how TG can be used. This cut of meat is naturally coned shape, with a broader, thick end that tapers to a smaller, narrower one. With transglutaminase, meat producers can “glue” multiple pork tenderloins together to create a tenderloin that has uniform shape and size. This might be ideal in restaurants or catering companies where having even, equal sizes is preferred.

How much meat has it?

The American Meat Institute says about 8 million pounds of meat in the United States contain TG. In the United States every year, more than 49 billion pounds of meat are consumed. That means about 0.016 percent of all the meat in Americans’ diet has the enzyme. Other types of preservatives may be more common, and these signs might indicate you’re eating too many food additives.

If you eat processed foods, such as sausage, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets, your diet likely has a larger amount of that small percentage than the diet of someone who avoids the “glued” foods.

How can you tell if a food has meat glue?

The USDA requires meat, egg, and poultry producers to list transglutaminase on ingredient labels, but they don’t always have to write the word out in such clear terms. You may see “TG enzyme,” “enzyme” or “TGP enzyme” used. If the food you’re holding has used the enzyme at any point in the manufacturing process, the food should also be labeled as “formed” or “reformed” meat.

For other products, including breads and dairy, the label may be less clear. If you’re unsure about the food you’re buying, contact the manufacturer. Most manufacturers don’t want you to know these 50 things that could change the way you eat.

21 PHOTOS20 Healthy Foods That are Actually UnhealthySee Gallery20 Healthy Foods That are Actually Unhealthy

Foods aren’t always what they seem. Check out this slideshow to learn 20 seemingly healthy foods that are actually unhealthy.

Rotisserie Chicken

Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, says that the skin is basically just fat, and the darker meat is higher in saturated fat. Opt for the white meat, and please do your arteries a favor and take the skin off.

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Vegetarian Sandwich
This can be a diet disaster, says Nicole Ring: The bread can be oversized, toasted, and buttered; it often doesn’t mention mayonnaise or “secret sauce,” and usually larger portions of cheese are used which add extra fat and calories. Instead, make this at home and turn it into an open-faced sandwich, reducing extra unnecessary calories.

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Egg-White Omelette

Cipullo says: An egg white alone is oddly absorbed like a sugar and therefore raises your blood sugar. Use real, fresh eggs in a nonstick frying pan. Use one whole egg to get a little fat and a high dose of vitamin A. Add an additional egg white for volume.

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Portobello Mushroom Burger

Vegetarian options seem healthy, so you opt for the portobello mushroom burger. It ends up being a deep-fried, breaded portobello mushroom filled with cheese. Cipullo says, in this case, a burger made with lean beef would be better. Don’t be fooled by vegetarian meals when eating out.

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Tuna Sandwich

Cipullo advises: If you want to eat a tuna sandwich as a daily meal, ditch the soggy white bread, the thick mayonnaise, and the mercury-laden canned albacore tuna. Instead, make it fresh in your kitchen with chunk light tuna and add fiber and antioxidants with celery and colorful peppers.

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Turkey Burger

Cipullo says that everyone orders the turkey burger, thinking this is the healthier burger. In fact, the beef burger may be leaner. Know the percentage of lean meat and choose the burger with greater than 90 percent lean meat.

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Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries are high in vitamin A, but they are often no better than regular fries, says Cipullo. There is nothing unhealthy about a sweet potato; rather, it’s the fact that it is fried in some unknown vegetable oil, like regular fries. Instead, make and bake your fries. Baking fries is the best option.

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Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Cipullo points out that what seems like a heart-healthy choice at the sandwich counter may in fact be covered in cheese and bacon while being served with french fries. Instead, make it at home, cut out the bacon, and serve with grilled vegetables.

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Turkey Sandwich

America’s favorite healthy lunch sandwich, right? It may not be so healthy if it has 6 to 8 ounces of turkey plus cheese, mayonnaise, and fixings, says Cipullo. Instead, make it at home, use half the amount of meat, and add a slice of the good green fat, avocado.

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Cipullo says that many delis add extra cornstarch to make soups thicker and salt cubes to make them tasty. Instead, make a wholesome soup at home using a vegetable broth base, flavored with herbs and spices.



Granola — it’s so crunchy and healthy for active adults. Cipullo says: If you prefer the couch or have trouble with portioning, opt for a high-fiber cereal instead. Granola is healthy when it’s naked, but food manufacturers add unnecessary oils, sugars, and sometimes even candy.

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It’s hard to avoid all the rage about smoothies! Cipullo says: Be sure to make your smoothies rather than buy them. Instead, use whole fruits, Greek yogurt, and water to keep this a refreshing and healthy snack.

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Bran Muffins
You are at the coffee shop and want to find something healthy so you choose a bran muffin. You order it warmed with butter. Just because it’s made with bran doesn’t mean it’s healthy, says Cipullo. This muffin is usually made from a processed mix and moistened up with butter and sugar. Instead, opt for homemade muffins.


Linguine and Clams

Nicole Ring, R.D., says linguine and clams in a white wine broth may seem light, but the portion sizes are often enough to share. White pasta adds unnecessary calories and many sauces use butter for the finish. Instead, make this at home using whole-wheat pasta and cut out the butter.

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Whole-Wheat Wraps

Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, says that whole-wheat wraps contain gluten and are high glycemic. Toss them out and switch to lettuce wraps; romaine and Boston lettuce are good choices.

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“The Fish Dish”

Williams says you’re better off making this one at home, too. She says that lots of kitchens brush their fish with melted butter. Instead, making it at home and pan-searing in an eco-friendly, nonstick pan with organic spray safflower oil is the way to go.

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Veggie Burgers

Williams says that veggie burgers are often loaded with overprocessed proteins and soy products, and don’t always contain a whole lot of actual vegetables. Homemade veggie burgers are a snap to make out of actual vegetables, beans, and quinoa.

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Tomato Soup

Williams says that tomato soups are often loaded with sodium. In restaurants, they are often finished with cream or thickened with bread. It’s best to make it on your own so you can control the ingredients.

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Turkey Bacon

Williams says turkey bacon has as many calories as traditional bacon, and is loaded with sodium and artificial ingredients. Your best bet if you’re going to indulge is to look for a heritage variety of bacon from a small production farm that’s free of nitrates and sugars.

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Asian Chopped Salad

Williams says that salads are generally a bad pitfall for people who think they are making a healthy choice. Asian chopped salads, Cobb salads, and Caesar salads are loaded and coated with non-vegetable items that really stack up the calories. It’s best to build your own salad.

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Is it safe?

The USDA and FDA both agree that meat glue is safe. However, some researchers and food experts have raised concerns.

The biggest concern—and ultimately the reason the EU banned the enzyme—is bacterial contamination. Each time proteins are “glued” together, the risk for introducing more bacteria, such as E. coli, goes up.

“The risk of food poisoning in food that is glued together is extremely high,” Park says. “This is because the smaller pieces of meats used have had a chance to grow bacteria before they are glued together.”

The glued meat may also be harder to cook, which increases the risk for foodborne illness. If heating can’t kill the potentially harmful bacteria, you could become sick more easily. TG might be OK, but these food additives are harmful.

Are there any side effects or concerns?

According to a 2016 study inAutoimmunity Reviews, individuals with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease may need to avoid foods made with TG. That’s because the enzyme may increase the allergic load in the body, which could cause serious reactions. People with weakened immune systems, digestive diseases, food allergies, and sensitivities may be advised to avoid all foods with TG and stick to whole, unprocessed meats.

The post The Gross Meat Ingredient You’re Probably Eating appeared first on Reader’s Digest.

Reconsider “healthy:”

17 PHOTOS17 healthy foods that are actually dangerous to overeatSee Gallery17 healthy foods that are actually dangerous to overeat


First off, it’s worth highlighting that most people don’t even come close to getting as many vegetables as they should in their daily diet, so don’t use this as an excuse to avoid the greens you need. Think of this warning as inspiration to eat the rainbow when it comes to your vegetables. "Broccoli is a superfood that is packed with potent antioxidants known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, but when eaten in very large amounts, broccoli may lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid)," say the Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. "This is because they contain thiocyanates, which can make it difficult for your body to absorb iodine. If you’re someone who has dealt with thyroid issues in the past, be sure not to consume very large amounts of broccoli." In moderation, though, find out what broccoli can do for your blood sugar.


Lemon water

The list of health experts and fitness influencers who swear by their morning lemon water is seemingly infinite. "It’s a very low-calorie, low-sugar beverage that encourages drinking," explain The Nutrition Twins. "It helps you stay hydrated with its fresh flavor while also providing some immune-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants that may help to protect your cells from damage. However, if you drink a lot of lemon water, the acid from the lemon stays on your teeth and can damage your tooth enamel, which makes your teeth prone to cavities." If you do drink a lot of lemon water, the twins recommend rinsing your mouth afterward and drinking with a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Here are 12 more potential reasons to love lemon water.


Almond or plant-based milks

The problem with cow milk alternatives, such as almond, oat, hemp, soy, coconut, and rice milks, is that they’re often very processed and have lots of added sugars. In fact, these plant-based milks usually have little of the actual plant, says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, associate clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "A glass of the average almond milk, for example, only has about four almonds," he says. Here’s why you should stop giving your kids nondairy milks.


Coconut oil

"More accurately, coconut fat at room temperature is solid owing to its near-total saturated fat content," says Ayoob. Contrary to coconut oil’s popularity among the foodie glitterati, there’s no actual science to suggest coconut oil is healthy, he says. "Go for extra-virgin olive oil, or canola, grape-seed, or other unsaturated oils as a healthier alternative. And watch out for portion size: No matter the type of oil you’re using, they all have lots of calories, so use them sparingly," Ayoob warns. Check out these other compelling reasons to avoid cooking with coconut oil.


Tuna fish

Tuna is a versatile and inexpensive source of protein, magnesium, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. "If, however, you’re choosing solid albacore or tuna steaks several times a week, you’re likely getting too much mercury, which is a neurotoxin," say the Nutrition Twins. "Mercury poisoning can lead to muscle weakness and vision changes." To avoid any danger, they recommend for the light tuna instead of albacore if you eat tuna regularly. "Pregnant women and children are advised to choose the lowest mercury-containing fish and limit their intake to no more than two times per week." Here’s a guide to how much fish you can eat safely.



Kimchi—a type of pickled cabbage—is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and gut-healthy prebiotic fiber, say the Nutrition Twins. Plus, the kick of flavor is a tasty way to eat your veggies. But it also happens to be high in sodium—the 670 milligrams in a single 100-gram serving translates to almost a third of your recommended maximum sodium intake, they warn. "Combining a few servings of kimchi with the foods you eat in your day and you’ll go well beyond the sodium limit, increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure and congestive heart failure," the twins say. That said, kimchi makes the list of 15 foods that nutritionists try to eat every day—in moderation!


Green tea

Most people can drink green tea with no worries: "It’s packed with catechins, powerful antioxidants that help fend off cancer, inflammation, and heart disease," say the Nutrition Twins. "However, the tannins found in green tea can also interfere with the absorption of non-heme iron (iron from plant-based sources), so if you have low iron levels or are at risk for iron deficiency (some athletes, elderly, pregnant women, and vegetarians who don’t consume enough iron) avoid drinking green tea with meals and just drink it between them." Look out for these silent signs of an iron deficiency.


Red wine

Red wine can help boost wellness, but the dose is key. "Red wine can be heart healthy and part of a healthful Mediterranean diet, in modest amounts," says Ayoob. "A modest amount is defined as one five-ounce glass per day for women, two glasses for men." Just don’t plan on going dry six days out of the week so that you can guzzle half a dozen glasses of wine on Saturday night. "It’s use ’em or lose ’em," says Ayoob. "No saving them up for a big blast on the weekend." And he warns that booze of any kind doesn’t mix well with many medications; check with your doctor about the safety of wine with your prescriptions. Learn what happens to your body when you drink a glass of red wine every day.


Grapefruit and other citrus fruits

While citrus fruits are healthy for most people, Ayoob points out that grapefruit, tangelos, minneolas, pummelos, and more can interfere with a long list of medications, including some statins and antihistamines. "Interaction varies with the medication, but can result in very high blood levels of the drug, or sometimes decreased absorption of the drug, when taken within 72 hours of consuming these citrus fruits." If you’re taking medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you can safely consume citrus fruits. Find out which other 17 "healthy" foods can actually be bad for you.


High-fiber foods

When it comes to weight loss, fiber—the part of a carbohydrate your body can’t digest—is incredibly important. It swells in the stomach to make you feel fuller longer, meaning you can lose weight without hunger. However, if you’re not used to plenty of fiber in your diet, eating too much at once can cause gas and bloating. "This is typical but annoying and can be socially awkward," says Ayoob. "You really need to introduce fiber gradually and consistently if you’re used to a low-fiber diet." Find out what happens to your body when you start eating more fiber.


Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts

"These are great foods with tons of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins," says Ayoob. "The problem for people on blood-thinning medications, like warfarin, is that they’re high in vitamin K, a nutrient that helps blood to clot." (Here are 17 more medication mistakes that could make you sick.) Unless you’re at high risk for blood clots, though, the vegetables are good for you.


Brown rice

While brown rice can be a source of whole grains, it may have higher levels of inorganic arsenic, depending on where it’s grown. "Arsenic is present in water and soil and as a result of polluted runoff that can drain into groundwater," explains Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, CLC. "This, in turn, increases the arsenic content of water in some areas where brown rice is grown. Issues arise with frequent and consistent exposure; thus, eating brown rice and products with brown rice derivatives every day can result in higher exposure to arsenic." She advises rinsing your brown rice and varying the type of grains you eat. Don’t miss these other high-carb foods that could kill you.



You might think drinking juice is just like eating fresh whole fruits, but juices are mostly sugar and they don’t have any of the belly-filling fiber you get when you eat real fruit. "Consumers are often confused about this and feel that having juice on a regular basis is a healthy choice," says Feller. "The solution, skip the juice and have the whole fruit." Check out these other 13 healthy swaps that will cut your sugar intake.


Protein powder

Protein is vital for both losing weight and building lean muscle. The average healthy person needs about 1.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight, depending on age, physical activity level, and other health-related variables, says Feller. Does this mean the average person should start to take a protein powder supplement as a part of their daily routine? "I would advise not," she says. "Most of us can meet our protein needs by following a healthy balanced diet. Excessive protein intake can strain the kidneys." Also, some supplements may be contaminated with heavy metals. Feller recommends that you "get clear guidance from a credentialed professional around protein supplementation." Watch out for these silent signs you’re eating too much protein.



We all need plenty of water—and most Americans don’t get enough. In fact, we often confuse our thirst for hunger, warns Feller. "However the other side of the coin is over-hydration," says Feller. "Drinking too much water over a short period of time can disturb electrolyte imbalance and in turn result in dangerously low sodium levels." That said, this usually only occurs, she says, if someone drinks gallons of water over a short period of time. Learn the silent signs that you’re drinking too much water.



Spices are a healthy, low-calorie alternative to heavy sauces and condiments. But a little goes a long way when it comes to adding flavor. "I’m a huge fan of spices—I just wrote a book on their health benefits," says Melina B. Jampolis, MD, author of Spice Up, Slim Down, and founder of SpiceFit. "They’re loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, but in the case of nutmeg, consuming excessive amounts may have a hallucinatory effect and can lead to nutmeg poisoning due to one of the active chemicals in the seeds called myristicin." If you overdo it, you could experience intense nausea, dizziness, and extreme dry mouth. But you’d need to eat at least a tablespoon before you were at risk of any of those effects, so putting a dash in your eggnog or adding a teaspoon to a recipe is totally safe, says Dr. Jampolis.



Before you cut out Popeye’s fuel, remember that most people don’t get nearly enough leafy greens, including spinach, in their diet. "This is unfortunate because leafy greens are a terrific low-calorie source of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, lutein, folic acid, and vitamin K," says Dr. Jampolis. "But for people with the most common type of kidney stones, calcium oxalate, too much spinach could be problematic, as it contains high levels of oxalate, which could lead to kidney stones in those at risk." Don’t miss these other everyday mistakes that put your kidneys in trouble.


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